By Olowogboyega Oyebade
Do you know that victory is sweet, but sweeter if it is long delayed and eventually achieved? Can you believe that it is sweetest when victory is achieved by manifold struggles? Do you know that such is the trail of the victory of the Governor of the State of Osun, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola as the Supreme Court re-validated his election on Friday, 5th July, 2019? Do you know what the Supreme Court of Nigeria is all about? Come along, please. The statement ofVince Lombardi cuts in:
“Running a football team is no different than running any kind of organisation – an army, a political party or a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win- to beat the other guy. Maybe that sounds hard or cruel. I dont think it is. It is a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men.. That is why they are there-to compete. The object is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules-but to win. And in truth, I’ve never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head to head combat. I don’t say these things because I believe in the brute nature of men or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour- his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear- is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle- victorious”
Are you aware that the Supreme Court of Nigeria (SCN), is the highest court in Nigeria? Do you know that it was established in October 1963 after Nigeria was declared a federal republic, following the setting of a constitution as the appellate jurisdiction of Privy Council was abolished with the cancellation of Section 120 of the 1963 Constitution and replacing same with Judicial Committee as Apex Court set forth in article 230, stating that this institution is headed by a chairman, with whom 21 judges work? Are you aware that the Supreme Court in its present form are regulated by the Supreme Court (Additional Original Jurisdiction) Act, 2002 and by Chapter VII of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended)? Do you know that under the present arrangement in the Constitution, the Supreme Court has both original and appellate jurisdictions, has the sole authority and jurisdiction to entertain appeals from Court of Appeal, having appellate jurisdiction over all lower federal courts and highest State courts and matters involving the States and the Federal Government?
Do you know that the additional jurisdiction seeks tocover dispute between the President and the National Assembly? Do you know that the Second Alteration Act to the Constitution approves that the Supreme Court should be the final arbiter for governorship election petitions? Do you know that all decisions rendered by the court are binding on all courts in Nigeria and all authorities and persons except the Supreme Court itself? Do you know that it is the only court that can reverse itself? Do you know that their decision is law and must be fulfilled? Are you aware that repeated reviews are not practiced except in cases when the president and the governors are examined? Do you know that in such situations, any person who is considered to have violated the Nigerian legislation may be granted a reprieve? Are you aware that Supreme Court rulings can be revoked by law or by the Supreme Court itself if its participants decided to change their decision? Are you aware of its structure and organizations? Come along, please.
The Supreme Court of Nigeria is composed of the Chief Justice of Nigeria and such number of justices not more than 21. Do you know that these Justices are to be appointed by the President of Nigeria on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, (NJC) and subject to confirmation by the Senate of Nigeria? Do you know that Justices of the Supreme Court must be drawn from qualified legal practitioners in Nigeria, and must have been so qualified for not less than fifteen years? Do you know that they must be people of probity and integrity in the eye of the law? Do you know that they have a mandatory retirement age of 70 years? The updated list of the Justices of the Supreme Court are:
Chief Justice (acting) Ibrahim TankoMuhammad2006–incumbent
Associate Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour 2010–incumbent
Associate JusticeNwali Sylvester Ngwuta 2011–incumbent
Associate JusticeMary Odili2011–incumbent
Associate JusticeOlukayode Ariwoola2011–incumbent
Associate JusticeMusa Datijo Muhammad 2012–incumbent
Associate JusticeKumai Bayang Akaahs 2012–incumbent
Associate JusticeKudirat Kekere-Ekun 2013–incumbent
Associate JusticeJohn InyangOkoro2013–incumbent
Associate JusticeChima Centus Nweze 2014–incumbent
Associate JusticeAmiru Sanusi 2015–incumbent
Associate JusticeAmina Adamu Augie 2016–incumbent
Associate JusticeEjembi Eko 2016–incumbent
Associate JusticePaul AdamuGalinje2016–incumbent
Associate JusticeSidi Dauda Bage 2016–incumbent
Associate justice Uwani Abba Aji 2018-incumbent
Do you know that the Supreme Court wields different powers in different jurisdictions? You care to know? Come along, please.
Do you know that in South Africa, the Supreme Court is no more the highest court in that country? Are you aware that in August 2013 the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa was amended to make the Constitutional Court the country’s single apex court, thus making it superior to the Supreme Court of Appeal in all matters? Do you know that the scope of its authority is to hear cases restricted to constitutional matters and issues connected with decisions on constitutional matters? Are you aware that Chapter 8 of the Constitution of South Africa sets out the structure of South Africa’s court system and defines the role of each court? Do you know that Section 165 of the Constitution of South Africa states that the judicial authority of South Africa is vested in the courts, which are independent and subject only to the Constitution and the law? Do you know that Section 166 identifies these courts as: theConstitutional Court; the Supreme Court of Appeal; the High Courts; the Magistrates’ Courts; and any other court established or recognised by an Act of parliament? Are you aware that the Supreme Court of Appeal, which used to be known as the Appellate Division, is the highest court in respect of all other matters and can hear and decide an appeal against any decision of a High Court? Do you know that the decisions of the Supreme Court of Appeal are binding on all lesser courts under stare decisis? Do you know that the Judicial System in Indonesia presents a different picture to that of South Africa and Nigeria? You care to know? Come along?
Do you know that the Supreme Court of Indonesia was established in 1945 and is the final court of appeal as well as a means to re-open cases previously closed? Do you know that it has a total of 51 Justices instead of 21 in Nigeria and oversees the regional High Courts? Do you know that there is the Constitutional Court of Indonesia as a part of the judicial branch tasked with review of bills and government actions for constitutionality, as well as regulation of the interactions between various arms of the State? Do you know that this Constitutional Court is a product of the constitutional amendment passed in 2001, and the court itself was established in 2003? Do you know that the Constitutional Court consists of nine Justices serving nine year terms, and they are appointed in tandem by the Supreme Court, the President of Indonesia and the People’s Representative Council?
Do you know that the Supreme Court of the United States, established in 1789, is the highest federal court in the United States, with powers of judicial review? Unlike the Supreme Court of Nigeria that has 21 seats, do you know that the Supreme Court of the United States currently has only nine seats? Are you aware that each State in the US has its own State Supreme Court, in line with the principles of true federalism? Do you know that the Supreme Court of each State is the highest authority interpreting that State’s law and administering that State’s judiciary? Do you know that the official names of State Supreme Courts vary, as do the titles of its members in the US? Do you know that we can find in that jurisdiction where one State may use a name for its highest court that another uses for a lower court? Do you know that in Maryland the highest court is called the Court of Appeals? Do you know that many States in the US use Court of Appeals for their intermediate appellate courts? Do you know that in States such as Maine and Massachusetts the highest court is called the “Supreme Judicial Court”? Care for its functions? Come!
Do you know that the Supreme Court of the United States has two fundamental functions? Do you know that its first duty is to interprete and expound all Acts passed by the Congress (House of Representatives and Senate) brought before it in proper cases? Are you aware that its second function is to examine Federal Acts and State laws and executive actions to determine whether they conform to the Constitution of the US? Do you know that the Supreme Court has the power (superseding that of all other courts) to rule against the constitutionality of a statute or an executive action? Do you know that its decision can only be overcome only if the Constitution is amended or if the court later overrules itself or modifies its previous opinion? Do you know that in the US, the Supreme Court potentially wields the highest power in the governmental system? Do you know that makes each party in power tries to get its apologists appointed when vacancies exist? Do you know that the Supreme Court of the US found many constitutional limitations on its powers, and has voluntarily adopted other limitations so as not to interfere unduly with the other branches of government or with the States? Do you know that the court has a standing policy of eschewing political disputes, i.e., issues that are considered to be policy matters of legislative or executive authorities? Do you know that it has a self-imposed restraints, including consideration of a constitutional issue only if the case cannot be considered on other grounds, and the formulation of constitutional decisions in the narrowest terms?
Are you aware that in most nations with constitutions granulated after the Soviet Union, the legislature is conferred with the power of being the court of last resort, the Supreme Court? Do you know that in the People’s Republic of China, the final power to interprete the law is vested in the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC)? Do you know that this power includes the power to interprete the basic laws of Hong Kong and Macau, the constitutional documents of the two special administrative regions which are common law and Portuguese-based legal system jurisdictions respectively? Are you aware that this power is a legislative power and not a judicial one in that an interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) does not affect cases which have already been decided by courts in these territories?
Do you know that Germany operates a different model of judiciary? Do you know that there is no single Supreme Court? Are you aware that cases are handled by numerous federal courts, depending on their nature? Do you know that final interpretation of the German Constitution, the (Grundgesetz), is the task of the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht), which is the de facto highest German court, as it can declare both Federal and State legislation ineffective, and has the power to overrule decisions of all other federal courts, despite not being a regular court of appeals on itself in the German court system? Do you know that it is also the only court possessing the power and authority to outlaw political parties in Germany? Do you know that when it comes to civil and criminal cases, in the German judicial system each has its own appellate systems, each topped by a high court; namelyFederal Social Court (Bundessozialgericht) for matters of social security, the Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht) for employment and labour, the Federal Fiscal Court (Bundesfinanzhof) for taxation and financial issues, and the Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht) for administrative law. Do you know that the so-called Joint Senate of the Supreme Courts (Gemeinsamer Senat der Obersten Gerichtshöfe) is not a supreme court in itself, but an ad-hoc body that is convened only when one supreme court intends to diverge from another supreme court’s legal opinion or when a certain case exceeds the authority of one court? Do you know that situations like these are rather rare?
Do you know that the Supreme Court of Switzerland presents a different model? Are you aware that Switzerland operates a system of direct democracy? Do you know that though the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland is the final court of appeals, it has no authority to review the constitutionality of federal statutes due to Switzerland’s system of direct democracy? Do you know that the Constitution gives the people the power to strike down a proposed law by referendum? Do you know that the court is only given the power to review the compliance of all Swiss law with certain categories of International Law, especially the European Convention of Human Rights? Can you now see that judiciary varies from one jurisdiction to the other?
Hurray! Do you know that the Supreme Court of Nigeria has deepened democracy again in our State and Nigeria by validating the election of Mr Adegboyega Oyetola as the Governor of the State of Osun? Are you aware that the apex court judiciously affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal which nullified the March 22 judgement of the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal? Do you know that the Supreme Court in a split judgement of five to two on Friday 5th July, 2019 agreed substantially with the Court of Appeal which ruled that a majority judgement delivered at the tribunal was a nullity and validated the election of Mr Adegboyega Oyetola as the duly elected Governor of the State of Osun? Do you want to know how they arrived at that conclusion? Come along, please.
Can you still recall that a governorship election held on 22 September, 2018 in the State of Osun wasdeclared inconclusive? Do you know that a re-run election was conducted in some wards on 27thSeptember, 2018 in which the Independent Electoral Commission declared Mr Adegboyega Oyetola as the winner of the election? Are you aware that the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in the elections, Senator Ademola Adeleke, filed a petition at the election tribunal to challenge the victory of Mr Adegboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress? Are you aware that at the Election Petition Tribunal, Mr Ademola Adeleke, claimed he polled the highest number of votes in the election and asked the tribunal to cancel the victory of Mr AdegboyegaOyetola and declare him the winner of the election? Do you know that the Osun Election Petition Tribunal ruled in favour of Senator Ademola Adeleke and declared him the winner of the election? Do you know that in a split judgment of two to one, the tribunal ruled that the Independent National Electoral Commission was wrong to have ordered a rerun election and the Tribunal went ahead to nullify the rerun and also ruled that the Independent National Electoral Commission did not comply with its guidelines on results from 17 polling units and went ahead unilaterally, to deduct the results of both parties from the declared total of votes in the affected 17 polling units held as re-run election? Do you know that this Tribunal of first instance declared that the PDP candidate won the election with 254,698 votes, while the APC came second with 253,452 votes? Do you know that the Tribunal also held that the PDP would still have won the poll even if it had opted to validate the supplementary election? The legal fireworks shifted to the Court of Appeal where the legal team of Mr Adegboyega Oyetola filed an appeal for the reversal of the decisions of the lower Tribunal. .
Hurray! Are you aware that in May, 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled that “the tribunal was in patent error when it set aside the rerun”? Do you know that in a split decision of four to one, the Court of Appeal ruled that the judge who issued the majority decision at the Tribunal, Peter Obiora, was absent on February 6, 2019, when a major discussion on the issue of non-compliance was tabled before the Tribunal; and could therefore not have viewed the issue squarely? Do you know that the absence of Justice Peter Obiora on a crucial day to take evidence and still went ahead to give decision, adding and subtracting votes in his decision, was seen as fatal to the entire decision of the Tribunal of first instance, by the Court of Appeal? Trust men in power-chess-game! Apparently dissatisfied, Senator Ademola Adeleke challenged the decision at the Supreme Court and his supporters had already sewn beautiful uniforms for the celebration while some drummers had been hired to rent the air with victory song as soon as the coast was clear at the apex court. Alas! Things fell apart. The Governor’s team was not spared too of the apprehension. Spiritual teams were seen moving from one prayer camp to the other, competing to outsmart each other in supplications to God to have mercy by coast victory home. In the entire scenario, there were no casualty. No one was assassinated. No one was wounded. No one was harrassed. The two parties showed their strong belief in the court and absolute faith in their fates.
Hurray! Do you know that on Friday 5th July, 2019 the Supreme Court affirmed the election of Mr Adegboyega Oyetola as Governor of the State of Osun by dismissing the appeal of Senator Ademola Adeleke challenging the declaration of Mr Adegboyega Oyetola as the winner of the Osun State governorship election? Do you know that the Supreme Court in a split judgment of five to two agreed substantially with the Court of Appeal that the judge who issued the majority decision at the tribunal, Peter Obiora, was absent on February 6, 2019, when a major discussion on the issue of non-compliance was tabled before the Tribunal; and could therefore not have viewed the issue squarely? Do you know that the announcement was greeted with wild jubilations by majority of the people and residents of the State? Do you know that Governor Gboyega Oyetola has described his victory at the Supreme Court as a call to service in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Adeniyi Adesina on Friday 5th July, 2019 in Osogbo? Do you know that the Governor also said that he dedicated the victory to the glory of God and to the good people of the State, who according to him joined him in navigating the “twists and turns of the road to justice”? Do you know that he called on the people to join hands with him regardless of party affiliation to develop the State? His statement cuts in:
“It is indeed a challenge to us all to muster the courage and strength to do more. We will work even harder to deliver on our campaign promises to you and to take the State of Osun to the Next Level. I commend the Judiciary for a renewed hope and for proving to us that it remains the last hope of the common man. This is a victory for democracy, victory for good governance and victory for the masses as this verdict reaffirmed my victory in the governorship election. I have no doubt in the judiciary and this judgment has further strengthened our confidence in the judiciary. We will continue to see the mandate freely and willingly given to us by our people as an opportunity to serve and lift our state to greater heights,”
Do you know that Senator Ademola Adeleke has proved not just to be a FIFA- rated Dollar- denominated dancer, but a perfect gentleman, too, inthe field of politics? Do you know that he has imbibed the Ómoluabi‘ principle to concede victory to Mr Adegboyega Oyetola and to wish him well as the man in the cock-pit of the State-craft? Hurray! Senator Ademola Adeleke, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2018 Osun State governorship election has congratulated Governor Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress on his victory at the Supreme Court. In a swift statement on Friday 5th July, 2019 by his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, he declared that his ambition to be the Governor of the State was not a do-or-die affair. His voice resonates for history:
“As a democrat and law-abiding citizen, I accept the ruling no matter my misgivings. I wish Governor Oyetola well in the governance of Osun State. In all circumstances, we must thank God Almighty. We gallantly fought a good fight in pursuance of a democratic cause. The ideals we fought for live on. Our ambition was never a do-or-die affair. We aspired to serve and deliver democratic dividends to the people of Osun State. Our ambition was altruistic. We wish Governor Oyetola the best in the governance of the state.”
Do you know that as we celebrate the victory of the Governor with patent fervor, do you know that we must salute the courage of Senator Ademola Adeleke too for allowing peace to reign among his supporters without the least appeal to demagoguery? Do you know this attitude, at least, is worthy of an award for peace? We thank all the security personnel in the State, the members of the press, the political parties and the entire people of the State for maintaining peace during the period the election petitions lasted. When God, courts and fate now summon ‘Ileri Oluwa’ with a divine call to serve, monarchs and all mortals here in the State of Osun, must obey. In God’s judgement like the Supreme Court’s judgement, there is no appeal! Ileri Oluwa tise Congratulations, Mr Governor and the Deputy Governor! Long live! The voice of Franklin Roosevelt cuts in:
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never tasted victory or defeat.”